On September 1, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups of Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya and Ahmad al-Abdo Forces revealed new details about the prisoner exchange deal with the Syrian government.
The FSA groups released Syrian pilot Ali al-Helw and 30 Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers on August 31.
According to an official statement of Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya and Ahmad al-Abdo Forces, the Syrian government will release 100 female and male war prisoners. The Syrian government indeed released dozens of prisoners in the Easter Qalamoun region on September 1.
Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya and Ahmad al-Abdo forces claimed that the deal includes a ceasefire deal in the area near the Jordanian border, and the withdrawal of the SAA 40Km away from the border line. However, it’s believed that this was declared for propaganda purposes only.
Furthermore, the FSA groups claimed that a temporary route will be opened between the Eastern Qalamoun region and the areas controlled by militants in Damascus desert. Opposition sources claimed that the route will be used to move weapons from the Eastern Qalamoun region to al-Tanf. However, the route will likely be for civilians only.
Opposition activists leaked a conversation with a commander of Ahmad al-Abdu Forces. In the conversation the commander says that they handed over the SAA prisoners to Jordan and Jordan handed them over to the SAA without their approval.
Many opposition activists believe that the deal was between the Syrian and Jordanian governments. According to these activists none of the FSA demands beside releasing 100 war prisoners was considered.
For sure the deal didn’t include releasing Hussien al-Harmoush – the founder of the FSA – or at least handing over his body if he is dead. This can be described as a strong evidence that the FSA was not a real side in this deal.